Frenchtown – Idyllic Victorian Rail Trail Destination

It’s been said that good things come in small packages. This can certainly be said of Frenchtown, New Jersey, an idyllic Victorian town on the Delaware River and the perfect place from which to launch your rail trail rides on the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail. Not only does the trail come right through town at the base of Bridge street by the Frenchtown Inn (a historic trail-side fine dining bar and restaurant) but the town is full of trendy cafes, restaurants and shops that occupy quaint Victorian houses and buildings. And, There’s also plenty of trail parking. A nice characteristic of these Delaware River towns is that they seem untouched by Time. You feel as though you’ve stepped back…

Victorian buildings
Victorian buildings along Bridge Street

Details and Logistics

Victorian-era building
A Victorian-era building on Bridge Street

It’s one of my favorite rail trail riding destinations (only 35 minutes from home for me) and a frequent ride base I use to travel mainly South along the trail. The scenery along this segment is the best with its cathedral ceiling of trees, sweeping views of the river and towering cliffs the farther south you go. Alternatively, you can ride 2 miles north to the trail’s end and 2 miles back for a nice quick 4-mile ride, with the same tree canopy, views and historic feel. Stockton, another smaller historic hamlet, is the next town South between Frenchtown and Lambertville. That’s a good 12 miles one-way for a 24-mile round trip. Stockton and Lambertville are just over 4 miles apart for a total of about 8.5 miles, so I make that trip often. But as I mentioned, I like the scenery better farther up, and for my money I prefer Frenchtown for cozy Victorian-ness. If you’re really game you can make the ride all the way down to Lambertville, (about 16 miles) which is also just as quaint but bigger, more dense and more bustling due to its major Delaware River crossing into New Hope, PA. That’s another great tourist town. Frenchtown also has a bridge crossing but there’s not much on the other side.

If quaint and slow-paced are more your speed, you’ll love it…

notable Victorian house
One of Frenchtown’s most notable Victorians

So definitely make a trip to Frenchtown to experience the beauty of the Delaware River along the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail (formerly the Belvedere Delaware Railroad—the subject of my next post). The town offers much in the way of a boutique travel entertainment experience in a wonderfully small and slower paced package. I’ve never seen huge crowds in Frenchtown…in fact its quite sleepy. And I’ve met really cool people there just walking the streets. It’s my favorite Delaware River destination for rail trail touring and if quaint and slow-paced are more your speed you’ll love it, too.

The Miller’s 5&10¢ Store Building and Bridge Street

Dining & Entertainment Links

I’ve included a few links below to get you started and there are many more establishments in town that you’ll no doubt discover on your own. I’ve personally been to the Early Bird Cafe and Cocina del Sol and can confidently rave about the experience…so, they come highly recommended; and I’m sure the others are also of high quality.

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